Tuesday, April 16, 2013

POLL: 62% Support for Marriage Equality in New Jersey

A new poll of New Jersey registered voters conducted by the Eagleton Center at Rutgers University indicates that support for marriage equality is twice as large as its opposition in the Garden State. 62% of respondents say that they would vote for legalizing same-sex marriage if it were on the ballot, while 30% said they would vote against and 8% say they "Don't Know" how they would vote. Additionally, even larger percentages of voters want to vote on the issue, with 69% saying that voters "should decide on same-sex marriage" and 25% saying that voters should not.

This question of voting on marriage equality a very live one in New Jersey politics because Governor Chris Christie vetoed a marriage equality bill in February 2012 and at the time he did so he said New Jersey should allow "citizens to vote on a question that represents a profoundly significant societal change." The state legislature has until the end of the legislative session (which should happen sometime before the November elections where Christie is the overwhelming favorite to be re-elected) to try to over-ride Christie's veto.

Some legislators favor passing a new marriage equality measure that would include a referendum on the question but the position of Democratic leaders (who control both houses) have opposed this idea on the principle that marriage equality is a civil right and should not be subject to the whims of the electorate.

The analysis of the new polling data indicates that it is now those opposed to marriage equality who also are opposed to putting it on the ballot, because they think it will pass.
As the Legislature considers putting same-sex marriage on the ballot, 69 percent of voters want to vote on it, while 25 percent do not and 6 percent are uncertain. Although Christie initially called for a vote, which Democrats in Trenton opposed, liking or disliking the governor makes no difference to support for putting the question on the ballot.
Likewise, 68 percent of both Democrats and Republicans support a ballot measure. Black voters are 11 points less likely than whites to want voters to decide – 62 percent to 73 percent. But 82 percent of voters under 30 want the chance to vote on same-sex marriage.
If the issue reaches the ballot, voters seem overwhelmingly in favor of adoption. Support for same-sex marriage is at its highest level ever recorded in a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll (62 percent in favor, 30 percent opposed).  Seventy-five percent who support a ballot question favor same-sex marriage. Twenty percent would veto the measure.
Three-quarters of those who want the issue on the ballot would vote in favor, while 20 percent would oppose legalization. A majority (59 percent) of those opposed to allowing voters decide the matter also oppose legalization while 34 percent support it. “Many of those who oppose same-sex marriage appear to recognize it is likely to pass if on the ballot,” noted Redlawsk. “Thus they would prefer to keep it off the ballot in the first place.”
Large majorities of Democrats (72 percent) and independents (63 percent) favor same-sex marriage compared to 40 percent of Republicans. Only 31 percent of conservatives would vote yes, but same-sex marriage legalization has gained majority support across virtually all other groups.
“While Democratic leaders have called same-sex marriage a civil right that should not be subject to a vote, the evidence is that voters would readily align New Jersey with other states that have already legalized same-sex marriage,” Redlawsk said. “It may simply be time to move that way for those who want the issue resolved.” 
This is a tough question for LGBT activists and the progressive colleagues in the Legislature. It may also become a more pressing question as majority public opinion moves faster in the direction of marriage equality than majorities of legislators do. Should they agree to place marriage equality referenda on ballots as apart of a legislative compromise to pass a bill? I imagine legislators in Rhode Island, Illinois, and Delaware (where marriage equality bills are currently pending) are all looking at their counterparts in New Jersey very carefully.

What do you think, vote in the poll below:

Should New Jersey LGBT activists agree to allow a referendum on marriage equality in November 2013?
pollcode.com free polls 

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